Abuja – The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the death sentence passed on Ayiere GodsGift by the Court of Appeal in Calabar for the murder of a teenager, Okon Edem.
Delivering the Judgment, Justice Suleiman Galadima, held that the decisions of both trial and appellate courts were given in line with the provision of the law that criminalised such an act.
Galadima said that the convict’s action was contrary to Section 319(1) of the Criminal Code C.16
Vol.111, laws of the Cross River State 2004.
“In view of the forgoing, I find that the court below rightly affirmed the decision of the trial court.
“This was, however, done after all exhibits were properly admitted in evidence and acted upon.
“In sum, I hold that this appeal is lacking in merit and it is accordingly dismissed,’’ Galadima held.
He further said: “the judgment of the court below which endorsed the judgment of the trial court is hereby affirmed.’’
The convict’s appeal was against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division, delivered on July 4, 2014.
The appellate court in Calabar had gone ahead to affirm the judgment of the Cross River State High Court delivered on March 10, 2010.
The appellant therein was convicted of the offence of murder of a teenager, Okon Edem of Grace and Gold Nursery/Primary School, Calabar.
GodsGift was accused to have on Oct. 8, 2007 between 12noon and 1p.m. gone to his victim’s school to kidnap him.
It was alleged that the convict deceived both the school security man and late Edem’s teacher as an uncle to the pupil.
The charge had it that while the search for Okon was on, the victim’s father received a telephone call from someone who identified himself as “Johnson’’.
It was therefore alleged that the “faceless Johnson’’ demanded for a ransom of three million naira for Okon to regain his freedom.
The apex court was also told that on Oct.11, 2007, “faceless Johnson’’ directed Okon’s father to take the ransom money to an operator of commercial centre at No.B52, Border Road, Ikom.
Galadima said that “Johnson’’ had at the point sent a commercial motorcyclist, Samuel Ezaka, to pick up the money from the above address in Ikom.
The judge further held that testimonies from the prosecution witnesses noted that it was when Ezaka arrived to pick the money that he was arrested by the police.
The court said that as soon as Ezaka was picked by the police, the appellant who kept a distance took to his heels and disappeared.
“Later on that day the appellant was also arrested by the police. He, however, denied any involvement in the kidnap and eventual murder of the victim.
“The convict was charged before the High Court. At his trial, in the proof of his case, the prosecution called five witnesses and tendered several exhibits while GodsGift testified for himself.
“At the conclusion of the trial, the learned trial judge, convicted GodsGift of the offence of murder and therein sentenced him to death,’’ he said.
The additional charge of fraudulently enticing and Child Stealing Contrary to Section 371(1) of the Criminal Code was struck out on ground that capital offence cannot be joined with any other charge.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial court, GodsGift appealed to the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division.
The court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the trial court.
Further dissatisfied with the judgment, he approached the apex court by a Notice of Appeal dated July 15, 2014 containing three grounds of appeal.
The notice of appeal seeks to know whether the court below was right in finding that there was no perversity in the evaluation of evidence by the trial judge, among others. (NAN)